translated from the French
by Jennifer Moxley
poems, 96 pages, smyth-sewn
ISSN 0269-0179 "Serie d'Ecriture"
ISBN 1-886224-09-9, original paperback
The myth of Diana and
Actaeon forms the matrix for this poem which
tells of Eros and Language, and of dismemberment. It tries to
exasperate abstraction and absence until the horizon turns and
reveals images from childhood, the child's body. Love erupts into
sacrifice; sentences break into feverish clusters of shifters. Finally,
the I Ching, Maurice Sceve, and Marcel Proust are translated into
sheer vertigo. The author has said: "writing, as I understand it,
biographically, autobiographically. Those moments when I first felt
called by the desire to write...were always linked to something one
calls mystical instances, when the barriers of identity are lifted
there is a break."
Jacqueline Risset is one of the most important contemporary French
poets. Born in Besancon, in 1933, she has published six books of
poetry as well as literary essays. She teaches French literature at
University La Sapienza in Rome, was one of the editors of Tel Quel,
and is well-known for her translations of Italian poetry, most notably
of Dante's Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso (1985-90),
the Académie française award for translation. Among her books of
poetry are Jeu (1971), Sept passages de la vie d'une femme
and Petits éléments de physique amoureuse (1991). A selection
English and an interview have appeared in Serge Gavronsky: Toward
a New Poetics, U of CA Press, 1994.
Jennifer Moxley is the author of Imagination Verses (Tender Buttons,
1997). She edited the magazine, The Impercipient, and (with
Evans), The Impercipient Lecture Series.
"Risset writes a synaptic space between languages... [she] explodes
the concept of translation from that of word/object substitution...
relocating the act of translation in an anti-system in which the very
notion of signification is endlessly, and critically, at stake...
Moxley's translation is delicate, provocative, and, given the density
the original project, remarkably lucid...Moxley's text constitutes
striking and adventurous work in its own right."
--Craig Watson, Poetry Project Newsletter
"Risset's books of poetry are 'heterogeneous wholes,' and she finds
clusters of lines and fragments of sentences 'cells' which, when 'freed
from their natural contexts...link themselves to other cells..., without
any hierarchical system.' This is akin to her idea of 'disidentity,'
sense of transcending one's own identity...as predicate to writing.
The cells not only mimic overheard language--they enact our fragmented
perception, our translation of the world."
--Susan Wheeler, Denver Quarterly